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CounterPulse readies modern Tenderloin facility

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CounterPulse is renovating and moving into a historic building at 80 Turk St. (Courtesy Kegan Marling)

Edgy arts presenter CounterPulse is on a big journey, moving from its scrappy home at Mission and Ninth streets to a spiffy renovated site in San Francisco’s Tenderloin.

Earlier this month, artistic director Julie Phelps led a hard hat tour through the still unfinished, three-level facility at 80 Turk St., pointing to spaces that will house a new 115-seat theater with a 900-square-foot stage, lobby, box office, dressing room, bathrooms, office, studio, elevator and storage area.

Calling the amenities an “incredible improvement” that will support different types of works that couldn’t have been offered in the current site, Phelps said she’s particularly excited about the building’s apartment for visiting artists, something that will “unlock the possibilities” for CounterPulse, which, through its 10-year history, often has spent as much as half of its production budget on housing.

Funding for the 80 Turk Project’s $6.3 million capital campaign is being raised through a partnership between CounterPulse and Community Arts Stabilization Trust, a new nonprofit dedicated to creating affordable, permanent spaces for artistic and cultural groups. Government and private contributors also are participating. So far, $2.8 million has been raised.

CounterPulse administrators are slated to begin occupying the historic, 1920s-era 80 Turk St. building (formerly a burlesque theater, gambling hall and porn house) in September.

The move comes just as the group (which formed in 2005, merging 848 Community Space and Bay Area Center for Art and Technology) was faced with the expiration of its 10-year lease at 1310 Mission St.

Its first public program, on Oct. 16-25, will feature artists-in-residence Liz Tenuto and Affinity Project.

A common question about the renovation is whether silhouettes of naked women in the windows, painted when the building housed the Dollhouse theater in the ‘80s, will remain. CounterPulse staffers said no, but that the ladies have been “extensively photo documented” and “immortalized” on a limited edition tote.

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